How can I carve out time for myself without feeling guilty?

1 answer | Last updated: Nov 27, 2016
Mom's mom asked...

How can I carve time out for myself -- without feeling guilty?

Expert Answers

It sounds as if you don't have a lot of support in caring for your mother.

I urge you to do what you can to overcome your feelings of guilt and carve out time for yourself on a regular basis. Caregiving is demanding, exhausting, and often thankless work, and caregivers are at high risk for depression and other health problems. You need to take care of yourself, or you won't be able to effectively care for your mother.

Are there other relatives or friends who can care for your mother on an occasional (but regular) basis, so you can count on an afternoon off every week, a regular night out, and a weekend off now and then? Contact your Area Agency on Aging, and ask about respite care resources available in your community. They may also be able to provide the names of adult day care centers, and reliable caregivers for hire.

It will be difficult for you to avoid guilt feelings, of course, if your mother is unhappy when you go out, or resists the care of others. You don't want to make her unhappy, of course, but as long as she is in a safe, comfortable situation, you need to give yourself permission to leave her now and then. If you don't, you will only become more exhausted, burned out, and resentful, and then you'll be no good to anyone -- especially your mother. With luck, your mother will find that she enjoys her new caregivers and/or adult day care companions, and will gradually begin to enjoy the breaks as much as you do.

You may also benefit from attending a caregiver support group, where you'll meet others who share your experience, and will be able to provide advice and a sense of community.